Thursday, April 30, 2015

“Furious 7” 

    I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   Vin Diesel reprises his role as Dominic Torreto as he battles against the bloodthirsty brother of previous nemesis Owen Shaw in a bid to save his family. Diesel is still the bad-ass he’s expected to be, bound and determined to come out on top.

   The tragic death of Paul Walker did not prevent the reprisal of his role as Brian O’Connor. Through CGI and the help of his brothers, O’Connor came to life as a man torn between family and the fast pace, in need of a stark reminder of what is really most important.

   Dwayne Johnson is back as Hobbs and is his classic epic self as he delivers the first fight scene of the film and later swoops in to lend support to his now, extended family.

   Jason Statham is Deckard Shaw, a man out for revenge for his brother and is bent on burying Toretto, his family, and anyone that would stand in the way of his goals.

The Plot:   
   Deckard Shaw embarks on a quest to eliminate Toretto and his crew for the extensive injuries to his younger brother Owen. With seemingly unlimited resources to become a ghost that is every where, and nowhere at once, Toretto and his crew are on borrowed time.
  Toretto and his crew have left the fast life behind them and think there are nothing but sunny days ahead when they get the news that one of their own has been murdered and they are being hunted by one of the worst possible people on the planet.
   To complicate matters, the US government is trying to get possession of a hacker that has developed a new technology and only Toretto and his crew have the needed skills to do the job. Doing the job also helps them as this new technology is the very thing they need to go from being the hunted to the hunter.
Completing the job is just the tip of the iceberg as the government is not the only interested party and stealing it is not the same thing as keeping it.

   What follows is pure adrenaline and fast-paced mayhem as Toretto and his crew do the impossible, seemingly in every frame of the film!

The Verdict: 
   After six films, if you don’t know what to expect when the lights go out in the theater, you might as well not even bother to buy a ticket.

   This film was so packed with action that it was actually over-the-top. I found myself sitting in the theater thinking to myself “no way” as each stunt went further and further into left field leaving all semblance of realism behind.

   I expected as much when I decided to see this film and while I was thoroughly entertained, I felt something was missing from the film when it began to border on the ridiculous with scenes so crazy I began to wonder if the film was actually spoofing itself.

   Great cinematography, fast cars, and bad-ass fight scenes will always be a plus in my book and will always hold my attention. Crazy stunts that make me say “no way” will have me thinking about what I’m watching instead of just enjoying what I’m watching. That said, this film was certainly a flavor I enjoy and soaked three and a half cinnamon sticks in my cup of tea.

Rating 3.5 /5

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

State of Emergency

   In the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore has erupted into a city on fire. It has gone from a city in protest to a city in revolt. The Governor has declared a state of emergency, but really it’s not just this city that should be labeled as such, but the entire country as we live in a climate that threatens to erupt anywhere at any time with every life lost where inaction is deemed the appropriate response. 

   The story of Baltimore has become nothing more than a narrative of violence and criminality exacerbated by narrative-driven media coverage of police under fire and unabated looting. Indeed, the cause of the unrest has long ago become a footnote in what has become sensationalized coverage of an imploding city. The way clear of the plaguing problem of police brutality has been muddied by a city of youth bereft of parental guidance.

   Let me be very clear in pointing out that the situation in Baltimore did not start in Baltimore. I have long ago sounded the trumpet of a nation in peril when I posited that the good guys are not the people wearing the badges (parts onetwo and three). Looking at any city in riot conditions simply shows that “good” and “bad” is a part of the human condition regardless of your occupation, race, or philosophy. People have justified some of the heinous acts of authority caught on film just as they have justified the destruction of their own neighborhoods. I don’t justify either and think real justice starts when we hold everyone accountable for what they do.

   Maybe I missed the riots in South Carolina over the death of Walter Scott? Or perhaps instead, I didn’t because the swift action taken to arrest and prosecute Officer Michael Slager curtailed the tide of outrage that surely would have erupted had he been simply suspended with pay pending an internal investigation that resulted in the department finding nothing wrong with his actions. I’m curious when those in power will finally understand that they live in a nation no longer willing to accept the systematic justification of abuse of that power? 

   Like all situations, there are many angles from which to observe them unfold, and so I have to equally wonder when the people being abused will understand that destroying the very infrastructure they depend on to survive is the least effective way to facilitate the change they are so desperately seeking? If the systemic application of abusive power is perpetrated by an authority that views you as little more than an animal, it only exacerbates that view when you take it upon yourself to actually act like an animal.

   The plain truth is the story of Baltimore is a reactionary tale. Although the media will have you believe this story began in Ferguson, it is a tale much older than the fate of Michael Brown. It is a story that has been often told, but rarely believed…and now with the advent of a society under constant surveillance, simply can no longer be denied. 

   As the world watches, America is squandering an opportunity to be the leader it always claims it is. Those in authority are dropping the ball on a problem that has a solution as simple as having professional accountability for the personal decisions of those in the profession. Meanwhile those not receiving the professional treatment afforded them are stripping themselves of dignity and liberty at a time when they should be empowering themselves through solidarity. This cycle must end if we are ever going to move from a state of emergency into a state of emergence.